Digital value chains and digital platforms are frequently used in the Digitala Stambanan project. What do they mean, how do they differ, and most importantly, what can Swedish industrial companies gain from using and learning more about them? Read our previous columns on Digital value chains here and Digital platforms here.

Martin Friis
Martin Friis

Work package manager

Digitala Stambanan Production

A digital value chain refers to the overall process of creating and delivering products or services by digitally integrating various activities and actors. This encompasses everything from development, design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service. Within the digital value chain, technology and digitization can streamline and automate various steps in the process, from automated production to data-driven services in the aftermarket.

Magnus Mörstam
Magnus Mörstam

Work package manager

Digitala Stambanan Production

A digital platform is a technical infrastructure for integrating data from various sources, enabling interaction, collaboration, and exchanging services, data, or products between users and actors. A digital platform is a “meeting place” where users can interact and create value.

For it to function, there are some vital components and features of digital platforms, as illustrated in figure below:

Producers create value for consumers. In return, producers receive some form of compensation, which doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary but could be recognition, acknowledgment, higher status, or the like. Producers’ access to the platform is controlled by access management.

Consumers are also governed through consumption filters, which grant them regulated access to the value created on the platform. The digital platform owner can understand how different actors behave through the analysis of user data and then manage, or orchestrate, the actors to create different conditions for the platform’s users.

The digital platform offers functions and services for transactions, collaboration, information sharing, and data analysis to various actors.

Fundamentally, the difference between digital value chains and digital platforms is that a digital value chain focuses on the entire process of creating and delivering products or services. In contrast, a digital platform is a technical infrastructure enabling interaction, collaboration, and exchange within this process. A digital platform can be a part of the digital value chain by facilitating and improving various steps and activities within the value chain.

To benefit from both digital value chains and digital platforms, a company must have a strategic and technological understanding and the ability to correctly implement and use these tools. Some crucial factors for this include:

  1. Digital Competence: The company needs employees with a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges of digitization and knowledge of the company’s current situation and challenges. The key here is to have enough competence to be a good client. Being an expert is unnecessary, as this expertise can be engaged externally if needed.
  2. Partnerships and Collaboration: Creating partnerships and collaborations is essential to establish digital value chains and use digital platforms. This can involve collaborating with suppliers, customers, or other industry actors to share data and collaborate on innovation and efficiency. Trust and transparency between parties are crucial. Therefore, choose partners you trust.
  3. Adaptability: The company needs to be flexible and adaptable to leverage digital opportunities. This may involve reevaluating existing workflows, processes, organization, and business models to use digital technologies and platforms.
  4. Customer-Centric Approach: Understanding and meeting customer needs and expectations is crucial. The company can create more customized solutions and offer a better customer experience by using digital tools and platforms.
  5. Innovation Focus: Being innovative and exploring new opportunities is essential to benefit from both digital value chains and digital platforms. This can involve experimenting with new technologies, developing new services and products, and being open to change and learning. Dare to try. Experiment on a small scale and evaluate continuously.
  6. Integrated Technology: It’s important to have an integrated technical solution and infrastructure that enables data exchange and collaboration within and outside the organization. This may include systems for ordering and process data, IoT devices, analytical tools, and other relevant technology. For your company to be an effective part of a digital value chain, your internal data management needs to be efficient and exchangeable with the external world

If a company has the right conditions in place to benefit from both digital value chains and digital platforms, they can achieve several advantages and opportunities:

  1. More Efficient and Automated Processes: By digitizing and integrating various steps and activities within the value chain, the company can achieve increased efficiency, faster throughput, and reduced costs. Automation of routine tasks can free up time and resources for more value-added activities.
  2. Stronger Collaboration and Partnerships: Using digital platforms, the company can collaborate and interact with various industry actors. This can lead to synergies, joint innovation, and new business opportunities.
  3. Increased Innovation: By using digital platforms and collaborating with various actors, the company can open new opportunities for innovation. The company can create new services, products, or business models that better meet customer needs by sharing data, knowledge, and resources.
  4. Improved Decision-Making: The company can make more informed and data-driven decisions using analytical tools and data insights. Access to real-time data allows the company to monitor and control its operations more effectively.
  5. Enhanced Customer Experience: The company can create a more personalized and tailored customer experience using digital tools and platforms. The company can understand customer preferences and behaviors by collecting and analyzing data and offering more relevant products, services, and communication.
  6. Greater Market Growth: By connecting to digital platforms and ecosystems, the company can reach a broader market and potentially increase its reach and customer base

Digitala Stambanan strengthens the Swedish industry through digitalization of value chains. The project is a collaborative project financed by Vinnova and participating companies. The work is now underway in two tracks through the strategic innovation programs PiiA (Processindustriell IT & Automation), which drives the Digitala Stambanan IndTech project, and Produktion2030, which runs the Digitala Stambanan Produktion project.